12 March 2011

that's how it was

He was always the first up. (Not just because of his job. He was and is an early riser. When he comes to visit these days, I can hear him shuffling around way before daybreak.)

He would pull up the blinds and give us a weather report complete with temperature and wind force estimates. When our replies were too mumbled, he would fold up the quilts so our feet  would stick out in the cold. 

There was always breakfast on the table. Hot tea. Milk. Fruit. He would already be invisible behind the newspaper. Do not disturb. Sometimes I remembered to make myself a sandwich for school. More often not.

The moment when he put down the newspaper and before he went up to the bathroom to shave was crucial. If you needed a signature or money for a school trip, if you wanted to try your chances for a bit of extra cash without a lengthy debate, permission for a late night, etc., now was the time. 

Waiting was not on the cards. When he was ready, you had better run, open the garage and the garden gate, close it when he had driven out, jump in the back and try to sleep for a while - or listen to the news programmes and soppy dancehall music on the car radio while he inched the car through the traffic jams or explored new short cuts. His mind on other things, already at work. At times he had to drop us some way off and we had to run for a bit to make it to school in time. Mostly he dropped us at the side gate stopping the traffic and there was never time for good byes.
I don't remember him ever setting a foot inside my school. Ever.


  1. and thanks for recommending the travel writer, I'll look her up

  2. I like this kind of memoir.

    My brother-in-law used to call the nice cup of tea followed by the brutal throwing open of the curtains 'doing a Harry' after my dad, whose habit it was. I never really minded it in fact, rather liking the first daylight.

    Parents didn't do so much coming into school then anywhere, I don't think, schools tended to prefer to keep them at the gates.

  3. That's right, Lucy, and thanks for your comment.
    I don't think we expected anything more at the time as kids, either.
    In fact, he has very hazy memories of our school years and when we tell him anything about our grades or achievements in those years he claims to hear it all for the first time.